Study finds bedrails can pose fatal risk to elderly and impaired


On October 7, 2013, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an article regarding the serious safety risks posed by adult bedrails commonly used for the elderly and impaired in assisted living facilities, hospitals and private residences. Although employed to keep the elderly and infirm safe from falls, the bedrails have been associated with the accidental deaths of numerous individuals in the U.S. Public health groups and consumer advocacy organizations are calling for greater public attention to the hazards presented by bedrails to the elderly and infirm populations.

Government agencies find link between bedrail use and accidental injury or death

consumerAccording to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 155 individuals lost their lives from 2003 and 2012 because of injuries sustained in using an adult bedrail. Furthermore, the CPSC also reported that approximately 37,000 people had to go to an emergency room because of injuries from the use of an adult bedrail. Of these reported accidents and deaths, over 80 percent involved people over the age of 60.


fdaThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) likewise provided statistics on the alarming link between bedrail use and accidental injury or death among the elderly. The agency has received 901 reports regarding this type of injury since 1985. Of these reports, 531 incidents resulted in a fatality where the individual became entangled and was subsequently strangled by a hospital bedrail.


Types of injuries sustained from use of a bedrail among the elderly and infirm

The type of injury sustained is typically suffocation that occurs when the patient’s head and neck is trapped between the bedrail and the mattress where they are laying. Other documented injuries include asphyxiation from being wedged between the mattress and bedrail.  The article cites an example of an elderly man in Pennsylvania strangulated to death after his upper body became wedged between the adult bedrail and mattress.


Unfortunately, bedrail injuries and deaths occur most often among the elderly, who are at increased risk for dementia or other mental impairments. These conditions may lead to confused states where the elderly cannot help themselves if they become entangled or trapped by an adult bedrail.

Call for greater attention to elderly safety

Consumer advocacy groups and concerned citizens have called for greater public attention to the issue of adult bedrail use and elderly safety. Some are concerned that the federal government has not done enough to ensure the safety of the elderly and infirm when these types of products are used. Indeed, the article states that adult bedrails are for the most part unregulated, while children’s bedrails and cribs are much more heavily regulated by the government.

See the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article:

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